Man reported missing from beach wandered to East Chicago

2012-07-23T22:00:00Z 2012-07-24T13:28:05Z Man reported missing from beach wandered to East ChicagoBy Times Staff nwitimes.com
July 23, 2012 10:00 pm  • 

PORTAGE | It was a long night for the missing 18-year-old Aurora, Ill., man as he walked through Northwest Indiana looking for help, officials said.

Juan Tovar was reported missing Sunday afternoon in the area of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore was found alive and uninjured when he wandered up to St. Mary's Church in East Chicago asking for help, National Park Service spokeswoman Lynda Lancaster said.

Friends of Juan Tovar reported him missing about 4 p.m., telling officials they had last seen him about 1 p.m. Sunday at the beach.

Emergency rescue water vehicles searched Lake Michigan between West Beach in Portage and Wells Street Beach in Miller but couldn't locate the man, who was wearing only swimming trunks without shoes.

Helicopters from the U.S. Coast Guard and the Lake County Sheriff's Department circled throughout the area, searching the water around 7 p.m. The Lake County Sheriff's Department helicopter began searching over the land.

Along with the air search, volunteers and other agencies searched Lake Michigan and the area for him for several hours Sunday afternoon and evening.

He told officials he wandered all the way down the shoreline and through Gary but couldn't find anyone that would help him find his way home, Lancaster said.

"It took him about 18 hours," she said. "He said he took some naps along the way."

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